Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
September 9, 2002
Let Sept. 11 lead us to the light
This Sept. 11 will be a day to remember and pay homage to the thousands of people killed in the terrorist attacks a year ago. These people should not be forgotten nor should the evil embodied in those terrorist attacks.
While we are remembering those people, we cannot forget the hundreds of thousands of innocent victims of the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, people whose equally valuable lives will not be commemorated with features on CNN. Nor should we forget the one-fifth of the world's people who live on a dollar a day or less at the same time the amount of self-centred excess is growing in the world's developed nations.
"We have found our mission and our moment," U.S. President George W. Bush declared following those deliberate attacks on the U.S. But evil is multi-faceted and there are many missions and many moments. Push those other missions aside in the direct assault on terrorism and terrorism will simply re-emerge with new roots. Terrorism may be an organized phenomenon, but such organization exists mainly because grievances are real.
Sierra Club of Canada President Elizabeth May declined to attend the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development last month. "I think the world would be better off if we could have avoided all the greenhouse gases from people flying there, and all the money."
Sometimes these international conferences may seem to bear little fruit. But if we do not continue to foster international dialogue and understanding, we will sink further and further into a world of unilateralism.
Humanity's hope for survival rests on a growth in international cooperation and understanding, not a retreat into our protective shells.
In speaking at World Youth Day, Pope John Paul told the young people, "The world you are inheriting is a world which desperately needs a new sense of brotherhood and human solidarity. It is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God's love."
Some may seek peace by promising a dialogue that clinically excises all reference to God. Others will pursue a world where one religion has aggressively pushed all the others aside. Both are paths to an earthly hell. Peace requires religious dialogue aimed at mutual understanding, not conquest.
The pope, again at WYD, said, "The new millennium opened with two contrasting scenarios: one, the sight of multitudes of pilgrims coming to Rome during the great jubilee to pass through the holy door which is Christ, our saviour and redeemer; and the other, that terrible terrorist attack on New York, an image that is a sort of an icon of a world in which hostility and hatred seem to prevail."
On what foundation will the 21st century be built?
There are two kinds of solidarity. There is the solidarity of us vs. them in which our group builds greater internal coherence by finding a common enemy. Then there is the solidarity which strives to reach beyond long-established barriers and to build a world where all people are respected and all are treated equally.
In reality, the first solidarity is no solidarity at all. It blows up bridges, instead of building them. The second type of solidarity is difficult because it takes us places we don't want to go and makes us hear things we do not want to hear. And it is not necessarily popular in a world where so many want to be winners and to see the other guy as a loser.
The pope, still at WYD, said for a new civilization of freedom and peace to arise, "a new generation of builders is needed." The key term here is not "new generation;" it is "builders."
We need leaders who will turn their backs on the negativity and desire for conquest and who will strive to make cross-cultural understanding commonplace.
This is the only road worth taking. And if we are successful, then the scene of the collapsing World Trade Centre towers will not only be an icon of hatred, it will also be a call to love. Then Sept. 11, which was a day of darkness, will have helped us turn towards the light.
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